Friday, July 30, 2010

Stand Up?

Okay, so I know I just recently said that I wasn't into calling people out, but I recently read an article that seriously raised my ire and I'm going to "call out" my Young Earth Creationist friends to take a stand against this kind of rhetoric.

Yesterday, Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis and co-founder of the Creation Museum wrote a response to a USA Today article featuring my favorite blogger (and friend in the virtual village), Rachel Held Evans. The USA Today article was a response to Al Mohler's recent statements criticizing BioLogos. (Yeah, lots of links there, but reading them will give you some background and will help this make a little more sense.)

In the USA Today article, Evans says, "My generation is ready to call a truce on the culture wars. It seems like our parents, our pastors, and the media won't let us do that. We are ready to be done with the whole creation-evolution debate. We are ready to move on."

Great thoughts, right? An opportunity for us to relate as people. A chance to see where we're the same. Yeah, the debate will still exist, but maybe we'll agree to disagree a little more easily and be less likely to throw people under the bus for believing something different from us.

But no. Right there, just as predicted in the comment he's refuting (!!!!), Ken Ham is ready to rally the troops in the culture war.

He writes, "Well, Rachel, I have news for you. Your generation is not ready to call a truce in this battle in the culture wars; in fact, we are finding more and more people are getting enthusiastically involved in fighting the culture war by standing uncompromisingly and unashamedly on God's authoritative Word."

And yet again, we've got people's faith tied to belief in a 6000 year old earth.

I'm seriously sick of this.

I'm not sick of the discussion. I totally disagree with my young earth creationist friends, but belief is a personal thing and I'm only interested in discussing it when it directly affects my family (in other words, if you want it taught in a science class, I think we need to talk).

But I'm seriously sick of people like Ham making this the defining issue for who is and isn't a "real Christian." This is not new (it's a part of the Answers in Genesis's crazy-making statement of faith -- I say that because I don't see how you can say point one and then follow it with point two), but it's very personal to me. I've seen the fruits of the science vs. religion debate in my own home and honey, it was not good news for religion on that one. When faced with an either/or decision (believe in a literal 6-day creation 6000 years ago or you can't believe in any of it), my husband chose the "or" option. This isn't simply a theoretical discussion for me, it has very real consequences.

So today, I'm speaking to my YEC friends. Most (all?) of you have said that you don't hold to the idea that belief in young earth creationism is necessary to be a Christian and that Ken Ham (and those like him) doesn't speak for you. So please, I'm asking you, don't support Ken Ham. Don't go to his museum. Don't support Answers in Genesis. Don't support others who give this same message. Speak out when this kind of stuff is highlighted. Don't give your tacit support through silence or your explicit support by visiting someplace like the Creation Museum.

Ken Ham has a reason to continue this culture war. It makes him money. He can sell tickets to the museum. He can sell books and videos. He makes money from events that teach evangelicals how to beat the "evolutionists." I don't believe that money is his sole motivation, but he definitely has a vested interest in keeping the controversy alive.

Please, don't let him. I'm the "enemy" here, so my voice doesn't really matter. But you who share his belief in a literal Genesis 1, your voices DO matter. You can join Rachel and say, "No, we won't engage. We won't support your divisive way." You can do it with a letter and you can do it with your cash.

We don't have to agree. But we also don't have to be at war.

Do you think that the culture wars are winding down? Should they be winding down? Where is an area where  your sincerity as a Christian has been questioned? How did that make you feel? 


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ETA: I just saw this billboard posted over at Hemant Mehta's site. This is what your trip to the Creation Museum goes to support. Remember, I'm married to the guy who is supposed to be holding the gun.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Collections

I've got a collection of yellow car images on my phone.

In the past six months or so, we've taken to playing a new game in the car. Instead of punch buggy or punch bug whenever you see a VW Bug, Deborah taught us a new game that the kids are playing, which is "Cheeseball." So any time we see a yellow car, we scream "Cheeseball!" and smack each other in the arm. We've gotten pretty good at it and the violence and yelling seems about right for our family. (I'm getting a sore arm just thinking about the 8 hour trip to NC we're taking in a couple of weeks!)

A couple of months ago, Deborah got a picture text from Jason, and in it was a picture of a yellow car, with the line, "Cheeseball!" underneath. That one text was all it took for the pictures to start flying between the three of us. If one of us happens to be separated from the others and sees a yellow car or truck, we absolutely will snap a pic with our phone and send it to the others. It cracks me up when my "Hey, it's a picture!" tone goes off and there's a new photo of a yellow vehicle there.

It's funny how collections happen. I know that sometimes we have intentional collections, but a lot of time they tend to happen on their own over time. I have that collection of pictures on my phone. I have a collection of DVDs that is pretty extensive. I have a collection of interesting statues from around the world. I have a collection of dust bunnies under my bed.

I think we get some emotional collections as well. Many can be good. I have a collection of memories from fun vacations I took growing up. I have a collection of memories from late nights in the Swope stairwell, playing with Renea. I have a collection of memories involving my husband (those are mostly private). I have a collection of memories from my kids (those are mostly hilarious).

I have a few negative collections as well. I've talked about some of those here. Collections of fear, hurt, distrust, anger. I didn't mean or want to acquire those, but they've crept up on me as well.

The plus side is that God wants to take those collections from me.

1 Peter 5:7 -- Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you. (NLT)

What are some of your favorite real collections? What unhealthy collection do you need to give away?

photo by edwardjohnphotography

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Cooking and a Giveaway!

I am totally NOT a cooking person. I admire my friends that cook, but it's not me. I have purchased new non-stick skillets one time because my original pans got ruined when someone used metal turner in it...more than once. I still have the same cookie sheets that I had when I got married. Every now and then I'll eye up new dinnerware sets, but since they don't see much in the way of amazing food, I feel bad about even thinking about it!

But yesterday, I put my hand to cooking. Because we finally had a nice day here (and by nice I mean, not oppressively hot), I decided to take the kids out blueberry picking. The girls and I went once this season and in an hour, the three of us were able to pick one and a half gallons of blueberries. Yesterday, with five of us, we were able to get less than one gallon. But even so, we had a lot of fun. We had to look a little harder to find the berries and they were much, much smaller, but they were still sweet and delicious.

Last time we picked blueberries, I did what I normally do, which is to just eat them plain. Nothing quite beats a big bowl of fresh blueberries for a snack in my mind! I froze a few, made blueberry pancakes with blueberry syrup, gave away a few, but mostly just ate them, handfuls at a time. But this time I decided to try something I've never done before. I was going to make some jam.

I admit, I didn't have high hopes. I had pulled up two different recipes which were slightly different and I didn't quite get all of my ratios correct, so I figured I was going to end up with really soupy jam. Everything said to skim off the foam and I had almost no foam on the top, so I took that as evidence that it was not going to work.

I did all of the stuff and set my jars aside for the 24 hours. Except that about an hour later, I couldn't stand it any more and shook a jar to see if it was setting up. And incredibly, it was! So about twenty minutes later, I went ahead and opened up the jar that was only half full (or half empty?) and stuck in a spoon. And ate the Most Delicious Jam Ever (tm). Okay, so maybe not, but it was good. And we made it (the we is Christopher and me -- he helped me crush up the berries and stir in the sugar). So I had eggs with toast and jam last night. And it was G-E-W-D, gewd.

A couple more of these moments and I might actually want to start cooking for real and I might have to pick up that new dinnerware!

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  1. Go over to CSN Stores and let me know what item you'll buy with your gift card!
  2. Like CSN Stores over on Facebook.
  3. Become a follower of this blog (if you already follow, that counts, just leave a comment!).
  4. Follow me over on Twitter.
  5. Retweet the following (be sure to include the link): Win a $40 gift card to @CSNStores from @BigMama247! Click for details on how to win! http://tinyurl.com/275qk2k
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Thanks for your participation! Good luck!

The prize for this contest is being supplied by CSN Stores. I receive no compensation from this contest -- just the undying adoration of my readers for the opportunity to win!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Musical Monday

In keeping with last week's theme, this one is just plain fun. I remember seeing The Polyphonic Spree on Scrubs when they performed today's song and I don't know if anything says "happy" to me quite like this.

I'm not entirely sure what "choral symphonic rock" is, but really, any band that makes use of a theremin is already ahead in the count in my book. And honestly, I have no idea what this song is about (and I've mondegreened these lyrics something fierce before today), but I think meaning is secondary here. I love big groups and there's something about this particular song that just touches me in more of a soul level than any kind of intellectual level. It's simply fun and happy.

Enjoy Light and Day by The Polyphonic Spree!

Light and day is more than you'll say

Because all
My feelings are more
Than i can let by
Or not
More than you've got
Just follow the day

Follow the day and reach for the sun!

You don't see me flyin to the red
One more you're done
Just follow the seasons and find the time
Reach for the bright side
You don't see me flyin to the red
One more you're nuts
Just follow the day
Follow the day and reach for the sun

Just follow the day
Follow the day and reach for the sun!

You don't see me flyin to the red
One more you're nuts
Just follow the seasons and find the time
Reach for the bright side
You don't see me flyin to the red
One more you're nuts
Just follow the day
Follow the day and reach for the sun!

Just follow the day
Follow the day and reach for the sun!

Just follow the day
Follow the day and reach for the sun!


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Stuff I've Been Reading

Links to some of the stuff I've been reading this week. Just a little glimpse into my virtual village!
  • Are you in the market for a super awesome hand-crafted guitar or bass? My bff Rich finally joined the blogosphere and is showing off his goods. You should stop by and rave about how gorgeous his work is (and really, it is beautiful and artistic and all of that good stuff). And then order something.
  • Elizabeth Esther wrote a really powerful piece about confession. Great stuff.
  • My friend Sarah posted a two-part series about modesty. But not the way you might think.
  • Another Twitter friend K.C. wrote a lovely piece about fathering. Will be sad to see less of his posting in the coming months!
  • Shawn Smucker wrote a super thought-provoking piece about the word "sin" here. Take time to read through the comments -- tons of good stuff there!
  • Jon Acuff made me cry again with his Serious Wednesday essay about shame. Not quite "Thinking You're Naked" but pretty close.
  • Jamie the VWM wrote a heart-felt post about being tough
  • In a "world's colliding" moment, Rachel Held Evans posted a non-controversial political post (that still managed to stir controversy -- well-done!) over at Jon Acuff's blog. The happiness just about blew my mind.
What have you read/written/watched/listened to that moved you this week? Self-promotion welcome and encouraged! You might be writing my favorite new blog!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Sappy Saturday

I had a late night yesterday, out on the town with my fantastic husband. Okay, it was dinner and a movie, but it was an awesome dinner at a great Japanese steakhouse, then some shopping (he replaced his wedding band and I got a cute new cover for my phone) and then to see Inception, which was awesome. So it was a great night. But it meant that I didn't get the writing done that I wanted. And now I need to get going to pick up the youngest three kids after their visit to my parents' for the week. All of which adds up to me not writing anything major today.

So instead I'm going to share a sappy video. This was posted a year and a half ago, and you've almost certainly seen it, but it still makes me tear up every time. After we've spent the week talking about friendships, I think this is a really great video to tie it all together. Have a great day!

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Real World



Yesterday we talked a little bit about the Virtual Village and how kick awesome it is. Really, I still geek out a little when I get to actually interact with people that I don't know outside of the screen. When a blogging friend in Costa Rica offers advice on the bird in my house, it makes me giggle. When one of my favorite authors leaves a happy birthday message on my facebook wall, I still get a little giddy. It still baffles me that some of my most long-term friends are people that I've never met in real life, even though we've sent Christmas cards and gifts and pictures for over a decade. I've been around the internets for a while now so none of this should be that weird, but I'm still just old enough to remember when we didn't have access like this, so I still freak out a little. And I love it.

But there ARE draw-backs to the virtual village. As I commented yesterday, I was thrilled to find other people like me. It can be easy to feel alone and when you realize that you're not, it can be very liberating. But one of the negative aspects of that community is that I can immerse in that to the exclusion of all other view points. When I do that, it's easy to forget that I have to interact with people in real life who have all kinds of different ideas than me, and I need to deal with them in a peaceful, respectful manner and work to understand where they're coming from. When I cut myself off from other ideas (which is easy to do when I can pick and choose what I read or with whom I'm interacting, I miss a whole other group that doesn't think the way I do, and that is detrimental to all of us.

In a more tangible way, the internet just cannot deliver a hug well. I mean, I have definitely got the warm fuzzies from a nice comment on the blog or a DM compliment on Twitter. But this ---> {{{{}}}} does NOT equal a real hug. I can share quips or LOL's about a terrible movie online, but there's nothing quite like sitting with my real live daughter and laughing out loud at stupid 2012. I love discussing wine with one of my Twitter buds, but it just can't beat a sitting with my husband after a long day, sipping on a glass of Merlot. I appreciate it when friends online tell me that they're praying for me or my family when things are tough, but it can't compare to a friend holding my hand and actually sharing that load with me. Pictures and words are powerful things and they communicate far more than I ever would have imagined, but a shared experience is something that simply can't be replicated online, at least not from my perspective.

I love the movie The Matrix (even though I love it less after the next two movies came out). The real world is mostly ugly. It's dark. It's dangerous. A bunch of people have crazy plugs all over their bodies. There's a realishness to the matrix. You work, you have friends, you go to clubs. Most people are content. Some in the real world even prefer the matrix to their existence outside of it. But ultimately, it's not what they were made for.

We were made to live our lives with and for the people in them that we see on a regular basis. I'm incredibly thankful for the people that I know online. You are a treasure to me. And I'm incredibly thankful for my flesh and blood friends. You can be messy and scary and delightful and warm. My life wouldn't be complete without any of you!

Do you ever use online relationships to the exclusion of flesh and blood relationships? What can you do to show the people you interact with in the real world that they are valuable to you?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Virtual Village

Several months ago, Tina and I were talking about a conversation we were observing and participating in on one of the blogs that we both read. Here we were, old friends talking about mutual friends that neither of us actually know in real life. She called it our "virtual village" and the phrase has totally stuck.

The Virtual Village is a fascinating thing.

On Tuesday, I asked people what online friendships meant to them. People used words like lifeline, supportive, strong, "...just as real to me as any real-life friend..."


My long-time internet friend Pattie wrote the following last night:
I LOVE online. That's because everyone starts on an even footing there. If you DO form a friendship, it's usually formed because you had a common interest or value in some online discussion. Age and social circumstance don't get in the way -- you may not even know those things until much later. And then you don't have all that social posturing that people have to do IRL. People are generally more honest and less inhibited online because they're not at risk. And so you learn who they really are, before you ever choose to be friends (or not).

My experiences have been similar. I have some internet friends that have been around since I first signed on, years and years ago. They've been friends since before I was a mom at all, some even before I was married. Our relationships have evolved a bit over time, but they still occupy a dear place in my heart.

When Jason first told me that he was an atheist, I was fairly alone in that process. There was really only one person in real life who knew all of the ins and outs about it,  but aside from that, I was very limited about where I could share it, which left me feeling quite alone. But what I found, while searching for information about inter-faith marriages and atheism in general, was an online community of doubting Christians. Not people who had doubts in the past, but people who were actively wrestling with doubt and were okay being in the midst of that. It was incredible to me. Questions that I had been asking for as long as I could remember were being talked about, out loud by other Christians. All of a sudden, I wasn't quite so alone.

And part of finding that I wasn't alone online made me realize that I probably wasn't alone in real life either. That realization made me feel much more at ease about sharing some of my thoughts in a more public manner, both here and with some real live people. I don't think I could have had that courage without the help of my online community.

With Facebook hitting 500 million users and Tweets being stored in the Library of Congress and new blogs popping up almost constantly, it's clear (well, to everyone except Prince) that online relationships are here to stay, good or bad. Personally, I believe that they are primarily good (I'll be addressing some concerns tomorrow). I have had the opportunity to make friends from across the country and across the world due to the internet. I've been able to carry on conversations with one of my favorite authors, something that years ago would have been very difficult. I have met people with vastly different views than my own. I've met people with views remarkably similar to my own. It's always a bit of a mystery who I'm going to meet next and that is fairly exciting to someone like me.

Now you'll have to excuse me. It's time for my morning stroll through the Virtual Village. I look forward to visiting with you along the way!

What has been your most surprising online friendship? Where in the Virtual Village do you swing by every day? 

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Comparisons


I'm still looking for comments on yesterday's post. Surely more of you have something to say about online friendships! Feel free to reply here, on Facebook or with a DM. Will be moving forward with the post (series?) tomorrow. Thanks!

Yesterday, Jon Acuff tweeted, "Never compare your inside with somebody else's outside."

Honestly, this brought me to tears. It's just one of the most beautiful, succinct things I've read in a long time.

A while ago I wrote about overcoming fear. Since then, I've started taking lessons with my dear friend Rich. For the most part, it's been good. He's been crazy encouraging and bit by bit, I'm feeling more confident. Most of the time. I have moments when the bad voices start piping up, but in general, they are being drowned out by affirming voices. Which is nice.

Now the biggest "bad voice" tends to be my own. I've been playing the piano for a very, very long time now, and I get frustrated that what I hear in my brain sometimes almost never makes it out to the keyboard. Part of that is me putting in a crap load more time actually sitting at the piano playing. But some of it is that this kind of playing is really new to me and I need to give myself time to learn the tools I need to translate what I want to do to what I can do.

Which is why that quote just grabbed me and wouldn't let go.

But the more I think about it, I think it applies much more broadly.

I make unfair comparisons all the time. I look at what someone has accomplished and I compare it to what I want to accomplish and I come up short. Someone is a more eloquent writer, is a more accomplished musician, has deeper spiritual insights, is a better mom, and on and on it goes. One person after another where I don't measure up. And in the midst of that, I forget what's inside of me.

Don't get me wrong -- there is often work involved in getting what is inside to the outside. Take a class, practice, study, read, engage. It is by no means a passive process.

But! In the midst of that process, I think it's important to remember that what is inside of me still has value. It won't be the same as what someone else is doing, but it's still important.

And what is inside of YOU has value as well.

Where do you feel the urge to compare yourself negatively to others? What helps you keep going to bring what is inside of you to the outside?


photo by Mystic-Grapher

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Invisible People

The internet has been around all of my adult life, but I still geek out about it with regular frequency. One would think that the novelty of all of this would have worn off by now, but nope. With alarming regularity, I am blown away by the opportunity to interact with people all over the world -- both those I know from "real life" and those who I am likely never to actually meet except by way of pixels on a computer screen.

I'm working on a post (or 3 -- not sure quite yet!) about what Tina and I call the Virtual Village and how we react to that . But as I work on those, I want to ask you for some input.

What do online relationships mean to you? How do they compare to people that you interact with in real life? Do online relationships change how you react with people in real life?


visual representation of the worldwideweb found here

Monday, July 19, 2010

Musical Monday

I've been in a remarkably good mood lately. Things are pretty nuts around here with some kid bickering, and I miss hanging out with Jason, but overall, I've been feeling pretty good.

Yesterday Jason and I were spending a little time together and I asked him for some suggestions for today's Musical Monday, and we couldn't come up with anything that really looked very interesting to me. Some good songs, but by artists I'd already recently featured (yeah, I know I just did two Dave Matthews songs in a row -- deal with it people!). Or songs I've already done (years of Musical Mondays means I've done a fair number of awesome songs). Or songs I wanted to get more informations about before featuring. So I started thinking about some kind of classic/traditional song I could post.

With all of that, I got back to thinking that I've been feeling pretty happy lately. So I started going through my mental repertoire of happy songs not performed by The Cure and On the Sunny Side of the Street came to mind. I love that song. And apparently a lot of other people do too, because when I started clicking around on YouTube, I found a TON of awesome recordings of it. Seriously, picking a video to accompany today's song has been almost as awful as picking the song itself!

So I'm not doing it. Here are some links to my favorite half-dozen or so recordings that I heard this morning. There are some serious gems in there. It's a rainy day here in my part of the world, but I want to invite you to the sunny side of the street for at least a few minutes! Have a great day!

Ella Fitzgerald & Count Basie

Stevie Wonder

Frank Sinatra

Willie Nelson

Count Basie Orchestra (piano)

Judy Garland

Louis Armstrong

What's your favorite happy song? Are there any glaring omissions that I made to my list of Sunny Side recordings?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Stuff I've Been Reading

Links to some stuff I've been reading this week. Enjoy!

  • Tina picked up the challenge by the Friendly Atheist to write about the Church and the LGBT community. Really excellent piece here!
  • Rachel Held Evans wrote a fantastic post about how Christians can treat Muslims, particularly with regard to the backlash against new mosques being built. 
  • Kristy made me cry with her beautiful essay about the gift of compassion that she received through the loss of her brother. 
  • Marshall over at bondChristian wrote an interesting post about how our stuff might be keeping us from serving.
  • Rebecca wrote a lovely piece about rituals, both familial and spiritual. Very thought-provoking!
What have you read/written/watched/listened to that moved you this week? Self-promotion welcome and encouraged! I love to read new stuff!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Sappy Saturday

The middle kids have been feeling a bit left out, since their siblings have already had posts written about them, so I'm going to forgo my normal "wait until it's your birthday" thing and write about them the next two weeks. And since she has been hounding me for a Sappy Saturday post with more vigor, Miss Faith gets to go first!

Faith Jubilee is our third child and she is the one who was probably the biggest surprise to us. James was just a few months old and I was feeling stretched pretty thin being a parent of two kids. And now here we were about to start down the whole pregnancy thing again.

And then, in the evening of January 1, 2002, my second daughter was born. Deborah and James looked very similar, but there was Faith, this tiny little girl with a head full of curls. She captured our hearts then and has never let go.

When I told Faith that I was going to write a Sappy Saturday for her, she asked what I was going to write about. The thing that is most endearing to me about her is her wild imagination, so I told her that I was going to write about how imaginative she is. She was worried though, because at the time, her imagination had run away. To Hawaii. All of my kids have a pretty strong imagination, but Faith's really goes to town. Just a few days ago when Jason was putting her to bed, she told him about the hierarchy of her stuffed animals. Which ones were the most in charge, which ones were still new. She got a new stuffed tiger at summer camp a few weeks ago (Blizz, a white tiger) and she told us all that it took a full week to train her to be a good animal. Her Littlest Pet Shop animals have huge contests to determine which among them will be princess for a day.

Faith is also my shy child. Where the other three will strike up a conversation with just about anyone, Faith is far more likely to hang back and watch. But once she does warm up to you, it can be hard to get her to stop talking! We'll go for hours without her talking at all and then all of a sudden, she'll spend the next hour telling me about the fairy races that she's been organizing, including all of the rules, the names of the fairies, who was disqualified, who was injured -- just a long-running monologue about these things. It's really fantastic. I have to soak up those moments when they come, because they can be much more rare than with the other kids.

Faith is my child who reminds me of the importance of play. She reminds me of the importance of being quiet. She reminds me of the joy of storytelling.

She's the child I didn't expect, but she's a child I can't imagine my life without. I am so blessed to be her mom! I love you Faithy girl!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Wilford & Brimley

If you're like me, it's never fun when you can't come up with the word(s) that you're looking for. We call it "the thing in the thing" disease around here, as in, "Babe, can you grab that thing? You know, the thing that does the...thing...YOU KNOW!" Sometimes nouns evade me.

But even though it's not always fun when it happens, it can be pretty funny when it happens to someone else. A few weeks ago, Tina was struggling to come up with the curmudgeons who heckle the Muppets from the balcony. Statler and Waldorf were just not coming to mind and she told me that she just blurted out "Wilford and Brimley!"

So in the past few weeks, when one of us writes or says something that the other approves of, we've been calling each other Wilford or Brimley. It makes me smile every time I see it.

But really, the whole pairs thing is fantastic. If you have just Statler or Waldorf, the dynamic just isn't the same. Then it's just one snarky person being mean. But the two of them together give it this dynamic that is really just entertaining. I sometimes get the feeling that their real goal is less to rip on the Muppets and more to just make each other laugh.

I find that same thing with the people in my life. When I get on the phone with a friend or interact with a commenter here or talk with Jason over coffee, we start to bounce ideas off of one another and we end up being able to really flesh out something meaningful. I might start a conversation with one idea, but find that their perspective really adds something that I had never considered. It makes me a better person.

Right now I'm reading The Unlikely Disciple by Kevin Roose for his Jonah Project. I hope to connect with my partner in NY next week to discuss the book. We are two very different people, but I think that's good. I totally believe (and have shared here) that I believe we're all more the same than we are different, but I also think that it's good to acknowledge that we have some differences and to allow one another room to have those differences and learn from them. I've found that when I talk to people who are different from me, it can actually lead to highlighting our similarities, which is pretty incredible. (By the way, if you're interested in participating in the Jonah Project, you can click this link or you can check the hashtag #jonahproject on twitter to find a partner. Looks like there are still 112 books available, so room for 56 more pairs!)

Mostly, I think we all need a Wilford or Brimley to make us better than we are alone!

Who is your Wilford or Brimley? Is there someone who is different from you who inspires you?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Social Experiments

A few weeks ago I wrote a tribute to my dear friend Tina. In it, I included some memories that I had of our time together.

Later in the week, she and I were talking on the phone and she reminded me of some of of the "social experiments" that we conducted during high school. I wanted to relate at least a couple of them here.

My favorite was the quarter trick. We would go to our local mall and while there, we would super glue a quarter to the floor. We would then hide in the really awesome sunken seating area that they had there and watch people as they would come across a quarter on the floor and try to pick it up. The level of laughter no doubt gave us away within seconds of each attempt, but really, we were able to see first-hand how people reacted to losing 25¢. I was impressed that nearly all of them responded with a smile and sometimes even a laugh. It's always nice to know that people can laugh at themselves. (And as a note, yes, I have shared this with my kids and I feel confident that they will carry on this legacy when they get older.) (Oh, and my apologies to the custodial staff of Clearview Mall that had to pry up probably half a dozen quarters over my high school and college years. I know that had to suck.)

The second was one that I had completely forgotten until my conversation with Tina. And this is another piece in the puzzle of me, to be sure.

In high school, I was always a part of the band. One of the best parts of being in the band was our annual trip to Kennywood Park. It was the culmination of band camp and was always a blast.

While we were there, a group of us (it varied in size over the years, but I would say there were always at least four of us) would always walk over to the near-by Pizza Hut for lunch. I'm not sure what compelled us to leave the park, but we did it once and it became a regular tradition.

Our trips to that Pizza Hut resulted in another tradition though. On our first trip there, we went to visit the juke box. It was a pretty normal group of songs, but it did include one that struck us as a little strange. Along side Surfin' Bird and Hey Mickey was The Star Spangled Banner. We found that really entertaining and immediately plugged our quarters into the machine so we could hear it.

We waited and waited for the song to come on, and it did, just as we were leaving. As we looked back over our shoulders, we saw no one rising in honor of our national anthem. I wonder if things would be the same now.

I'm sure there were other attempts (no doubt Flee Ball was a grand social experiment!), but those are some of my favorites and some of our most deliberate attempts.

What goofy things did you do as a kid (or as an adult) to elicit a reaction from others? Were you ever the unwitting participant in another person's social experiment?


Photo by casers jean

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Present

The reason we don't sense God's being present in any given moment is because we're not present in most moments. ~Jeff Rogers (comment at Rebecca Ramsey's blog)

This time of year makes me think of vacations. And when I start to think about vacations, I'm immediately taken to a field in Vermont with my parents and sisters.

We had a pretty low-key day. We pulled into a camp ground that was a bit off the beaten path. It was incredibly quiet, which was rare in the middle of the summer vacation season. We built a fire, made some mountain pies, played at the arcade a little bit. Nothing special. Nothing very "vacationy." It was just a quiet night.

I'm not sure what led us to the field that night. But somehow we all ended up sitting around a picnic table in a huge open field with nothing but the night sky above us. Normally a loquacious family, I don't remember much conversation in that moment. Just awe.

It's not like I'd never seen stars before. Our home was in the country and there wasn't a lot of light pollution there. There weren't even a lot of trees or houses around to obstruct our view back then. So what was different on this night?

I think the quote at the top of the post says it all. We were present. All of us. We sat there together in that moment. We gazed upon the magnificence of the starry sky together in that moment. We contemplated our own place in the world together in that moment. And we all sought God together in that moment.

And he met us there.

I think the quote holds true for so many relationships. We don't really experience true closeness with people because we're too distracted to really engage. We're so busy that our mind is already on the next thing that we have to do while we're talking to someone. We might be sitting there together, but we're not participating in the relationship. We're not present.

However, sometimes we are present. We fully immerse ourselves into the moment. We truly listen. We fully engage all of our senses. And those can be some of the most life-transforming moments we have.

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them. (Matthew 18:20)

Can you remember a time when you were fully present in a moment? What happened? What are things that hinder you from being fully present?

Photo by Stevie Steve Steven

Monday, July 12, 2010

Musical Monday

I had such a great weekend. Jason and I took the girls up to my parents' house to pick up the boys. While we were there, we did lots of date stuff. It was sooooo nice! With school and work and life, we don't get to spend nearly enough time together. So getting a whole weekend to just hang out and enjoy one another's company was really awesome.

On Friday night we went to see a friend's play. It was a series of one act plays written by my friend Sean O'Donnell and the last one included another friend of mine (Tom Protulipac). It was at the New Olde Bank Theatre and it was really delightful. (You can read a review here.) Tina was also able to attend, and we had a wonderful time. We stayed talking to Sean and Tom until quite late and it was just a really good time.

Then on Saturday night, Jason and I went to see Dave Matthews Band. It. Was. Awesome. They played for 3 hours and it was just incredible. I wish I was a little more familiar with their songs, since I like to sing along when I go to a concert, but even not knowing everything, it was just fantastic. The band was incredibly tight and they all looked like they were having the time of their life. Watching people engaged and entertained by what they do is just a beautiful thing, and I got that in spades at the concert.

So, even though I just did a Dave Matthews song last week, I'm pulling another one this week. (I'm going to pull a technicality and say that last week was a Dave Matthews solo piece and this week is something from Dave Matthews Band.)

This is one of my favorites from their latest cd, Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King. I love how they move so seamlessly between the heavier verse/chorus into the light and pretty bridge. Plus, it's just a pretty sexy song. It was a blast to see them and if you get the chance, I highly recommend it! Enjoy Shake Me Like a Monkey!

The thing I like about you 
Is the way you 
The way that you do 
The thing I like about you 

God and the devil alone 
Could not have made you up 
The two must have worked 
As one together 

So good just wanna eat you up 
Nothing like the real thing 
Lick your sticky fingers boy 
And sing for your dinner sing 

Come on pretty baby 
Make me lose my mind 
Everybody get together 
Gonna make love shine 

Do you know what it is 
To feel the light of love inside you? 
And all the darkness falls away 
If you feel the way I feel 
Then believe we have the answer 
I've been searching for tonight 
Love me baby love me baby 
Shake me like a monkey baby 
Forever I'm yours yours yours 
Yeah forever I'm 

I, I, I 
Can't stop thinking about you 
Yeah yeah yeah 
Why would I want to 

I like my coffee with toast and jelly 
But I'd rather be licking 
From your back to your belly 
I, I, I 
Think I'm going to 

Do you know what it is 
To feel the light of love inside you? 
And all the darkness falls away 
If you feel the way I feel 
Then believe we have the answer 
I've been searching for tonight 
Love me baby love me baby 
Shake me like a monkey baby 
Forever I'm yours yours yours 
Yeah forever I'm 

Cigarettes and coffee 
Broken hearts and being lonely 
Little girls and ponies 
Things that go together 

Yes and no 
You have to choose 
Romeo and Juliet 
The hang man and his noose 
You and me we go good together 

Kiss kiss make a wish 
Hope that it comes true 
I ain't waiting for the world to change 
Gonna change the world for you 

Come on pretty baby 
Make you lose your mind 
Everybody get together 
Gonna make love shine 

Do you know what it is 
To feel the light of love inside you? 
And all the darkness falls away 
If you feel the way I feel 
Then believe we have the answer 
I've been searching for tonight 
Love me baby love me baby 
Shake me like a monkey baby 
Forever I'm yours yours yours 
Yeah forever I'm 

Come on everybody 
Make me lose my mind 
Everybody get together 
Gonna make love shine

Friday, July 09, 2010

Part of the Problem

Earlier this week, Hemant Mehta at FriendlyAtheist.com issued a challenge to Christians. At the end of this post, he said:
I want to see any Christian who finds this despicable to say so. Blog about it. Tell your Facebook friends. Tell your church members. Call out anyone who disagrees.
If you don't, you're part of the problem.
The above was with regard to the veto of House Bill 444 by the Hawaiian governor Linda Lingle. The Hawaiian legislature passed this bill, which gave gay couples in Hawaii civil unions with full some marriage rights (not marriage, but civil unions -- thanks Existential Punk for correcting me on the level of rights). On the afternoon of July 6, Governor Lingle vetoed the bill.

Last week, I posted that I supported the Marin Foundation's "I'm Sorry" campaign. I think it's fantastic that people in the Church are reaching out, both figuratively and literally to embrace those in the LGBT community. Hemant didn't think much of it (other bloggers too, but Hemant's blog is the only one that I regularly read and occasionally participate in the conversation). I can understand his skepticism, especially given that the religious community, particularly the Christian church, has been a driving force in denying or removing rights for LGBT couples. It's hard to see the value of an apology when there is active work to prevent gay couples from having the same legal rights as straight couples.

Nevertheless, I think what Nathan and the others did was really great and I said so. I believe that apologies are powerful things and I have a difficult time getting too analytical about the deeper meaning about a given apology. I think our best bet is to take them at face value and see how things pan out. If someone is lying or the promise is empty, we'll see that. But dismissing an apology preemptively? That just seems cold to me. Which is basically what I said on Hemant's blog.

So that probably puts me in the group that Hemant is addressing in his post from Wednesday.

While I'm not here to "call out" those who agree with Gov. Lingle's actions (sorry Hemant, I'm trying not to do that!), I do want to make it perfectly clear, once again, that I fully support gay marriage. But as I've said that numerous times here, I'm going to explain why I'm particularly frustrated with the veto in Hawaii.

I am disappointed in Gov. Lingle's actions because of several things. First, she waited until the last possible moment to veto the bill. If she really thought that it's a problem, veto it immediately and then give the system (and by extension the people of your state) time to respond. Waiting until the last minute is just cowardly.

Second, most gay marriage rulings have run through the court system. Personally, I have no problem with that -- the courts are what ultimately made decisions about interracial marriage, so it's not like it's never been done that way before. But in Hawaii, that's not how it happened. It was passed by the elected state legislature. Representative government and all of that.

Finally, I can't say how many times I've heard that it's the word marriage the people object to when it comes to LGBT rights. I've heard over and over that civil unions are fine, just don't call it marriage. The Hawaiian legislature called it a civil union. Yes, it offers the same rights and benefits of marriage, but it was a separate term. And yet the governor vetoed the bill because it was "essentially marriage by another name."

I'm not sure if I'd say it's despicable (well, if you catch me on the right day, maybe). But it's very disappointing.

In an article yesterday about the ruling about DOMA handed down by a federal judge, Andrew Sullivan had a comment that really resonated with me about the whole issue, and why I feel like this is so important.
This issue is neither right nor left; it is about human dignity, civil equality and civil rights.
I've got to say, those things sound pretty good to me.

What do you think about the apology from the Marin Foundation? Do you see this primarily as a religious or a civil rights issue? 

photo by A Polaroid 365

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Personal Theology Statement

My new eFriend (iFriend? eFriend sounds a little 2001 to me) Danny Bixby recently wrote a post asking folks to come up with their own personal theology statement. I thought that was a pretty interesting idea and decided to give it a go (sorry it took me a couple of weeks Danny!).

For the record, this is probably not a final statement by any means. It's mostly just how I'm feeling right now. Ask me again in a couple of weeks and it might be different. I'm basing my theology statement about the nature of God on the fruits of the Spirit.

  1. God is Loving: God not only loves, but he IS love. When I choose to be loving, I am acting in accordance with God's loving nature. (1 John 4:8)
  2. God is Joyful: He dances over me with joyful singing. He created laughter and humor. He is fun. When I am happy, I reflect God's joyful nature. (Zephaniah 3:17)
  3. God is Peaceful: God's way is peaceful. Stirring up strife and dissent is not of God. When I choose peace instead of conflict, I am acting in accordance with God's peaceful nature. (Ephesians 4:3-6)
  4. God is Patient: God has a long-term plan and isn't so much concerned with me getting everything I want RIGHT NOW. He also is willing to wait for me to get over whatever gets in the way of my relationship with him. When I exhibit patience in my life, I'm showing God's patient nature. (2 Peter 3:15)
  5. God is Kind: God shows concern for me and does so regardless of what I offer back. His kindness is in no way dependent on me. When I show kindness to those around me, I show God's kind nature. (Romans 2:3-4)
  6. God is Good: God always gives the best part of himself. He doesn't hold anything back. When I allow what is good in me to overflow, I am behaving in a way that is consistent with God's good nature. (Psalm 31:19)
  7. God is Faithful: I can trust that God will not let me down. What he promises to do, he does. When I keep my promises, I express God's faithful nature.(Lamentations 3:22-24)
  8. God is Gentle: Even with his awesome power, God expresses himself with gentleness. When I place the needs of others in front of my own needs, I'm living out God's gentle nature. (Isaiah 49:15)
  9. God has Self-Control: God doesn't fly off the handle. He is reasonable. When I choose to exert self-control, I am reflecting God's self-controlling nature. (Psalm 86:15)
As I said, this is, of course, incomplete. But when I think of God, these are the first attributes that come to my mind. 

If you were writing a personal theology, what would you write? Do you have something you'd be willing to share? Do you think this is a worthwhile pursuit?
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I'm a wife to an amazing man, and mom to four incredible kids. I'm a Christian woman who sometimes struggles with doubt. I'm a musician and a writer who is sometimes afraid to play and write. I'm trying to be more authentic every day.
 
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